Online Gaming and Playful Organization (Hardback) book cover

Online Gaming and Playful Organization

By Harald Warmelink

© 2014 – Routledge

230 pages

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About the Book

Online Gaming and Playful Organization explores the cultural impact of gaming on organizations. While gaming is typically a form of entertainment, this book argues that gaming communities can function as a useful analogue for work organizations because both are comprised of diverse members who must communicate and collaborate to solve complex problems.

By examining the impact of gaming beyond its own context, this book argues that one can apply numerous lessons from the virtual world of online games to the “real” world of businesses, schools, and other professional communities. Most notably, it articulates the concept of playful organizations, defined as organizations in which the ability to play has become so institutionalized that it is spontaneous, creative, and enjoyable.

Based on original research, Online Gaming and Playful Organization establishes an interdisciplinary framework for further conceptual and empirical investigation into this topic, with the dual goals of a better understanding of the role of online games and virtual worlds, and of the possible structural and cultural transformation of public and private organizations.


"This playfully written book is a timely portrayal of 'virtual' worlds and how they (could) relate to 'real' worlds. Dr. Warmelink manages to falsify the dichotomy of play and work in his own book: his enjoyment for his own research is apparent, and the book is downright fun to read. Yet, it is also thoughtful, nuanced, critical, and erudite, weaving together insights from organization studies and game studies and providing plentiful empirical evidence. I predict that Warmelink’s concept of playful organizations will become commonplace in the years to come and I highly recommend others to join his playful journey."—Casper Harteveld, Assistant Professor of Game Design, Northeastern University, USA

Table of Contents

1 Setting the Stage: The Emergence of Playful Organizations

2 Unfolding the Concept and Its Potential: The Playful Organization Ideal-type

3 Previous Studies Re-examined: Have Playful Organizations Already Emerged?

4 An Online Gamer Speaks Out: Playful Organizations in EVE Online

5 Let’s Ask Our Panel: Dutch Online Gamers on Their Communities

6 Building an Un-/Comfortable Bridge: Dutch Online Gamers on Their Work Organizations

7 Food for Thought: The Emergence of Playful Organizations Uncovered and Critiqued

About the Author

Harald Warmelink is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology, as well as a manager and teacher of game design projects at HKU Utrecht School of the Arts, the Netherlands.

About the Series

Digital Games and Learning

Games and simulations have had a new lease of life in the digital revolution. There are remarkable examples of fascinating games that are also tools for learning complex knowledge, and engaging simulations that are used for pleasure and work-related training and education. Their existence raises many research questions: how are they designed? Who plays them? What are the economics of such games for players, providers, others in the market, and how do the economics affect game and simulation production and use? Where are they being used in education and training, and to what effect? Digital Games and Learning (DGL) aims to explore these and many other questions about the design and use of games and simulations in our societies.

Books in the series will provide:

  • Insights into how games and simulations can be used effectively in education
  • Appreciation of the multi-disciplinary research base that is emerging in this fast-developing field
  • Knowledge of the implementations that can be put to use in different levels of education: school, further education, higher education and workplaces.

Volumes in the DGL series will focus on innovative research, theory and practice. We shall be publishing books that evidence at least some of the following themes and traits:

  1. Disciplinary grounding
    Our series will investigate the relation between more conventional ‘signature pedagogies’ and new approaches to learning engendered by digital games and simulations.
  2. Interactivity of social relations
    Games and simulations are often highly social, but their social and cultural codes still require substantial research.
  3. Design-led learning
    One of the significant differences between conventional teaching and digital games and simulations is the amount of design work that is required upfront in order to plan the learning environment and facilitate learning within it. DGL will investigate the theory and practices of design in digital games and simulations.
  4. Problem-solving
    Digital games and simulations are useful learning environments for problem-solving heuristics. The extent to which this happens, for whom and under what conditions, will be a theme of our series.
  5. Innovative research methodologies
    We encourage forms of action research (practice research, participatory action research, action science, etc) as well as the challenging of conventional approaches to cognitive science, to educational theory constructs and to the philosophy of game-play.

The series is an international resource for educationalists, educators, technologists and educational users. It brings together some of the best contemporary academic and practitioner commentators to tackle the dilemmas and opportunities in a challenging, informed and inquiring manner. The scope of the series is purposely wide and contributions from a variety of disciplines are welcomed. Books may be monographs, single or multi-authored, or edited collections.

To contact the series editors email either Sara de Freitas or Paul Maharg:


Sara de Freitas is Pro Vice Chancellor and Professor of Learning and Teaching at Murdoch University. In her role, she leads on strategy for learning and teaching across the university, and provides academic leadership for the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (CUTL) which supports a range of activities including: high quality research in learning and teaching, delivery of the OnTrack enabling program and support for advanced educational innovative technologies. Before coming to Australia, Sara was Director of Research at the Serious Games Institute, Coventry University, UK. There she led the formation and development of a hybrid model of research, business and study, the first institute of its kind. The Institute attracted millions in research income from the British Council, UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, European Union and European Regional Development Fund. At Birkbeck College, University of London, she helped to establish the well-known London Knowledge Lab, with its focus upon digital learning. Over the period, she was also the Director of a consultancy company, which provided consultancies for the UK Department of Education and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

Sara currently holds a Visiting Professorship at Coventry University in the UK and a Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of London. Her research interests are focused in learning analytics, technology enhanced learning, higher educational policy and leadership and advanced educational games research and development. Sara has published seven books and over 100 journal articles, conference papers and reports. She currently sits on over 100 programme committees and advisory boards and has undertaken over 100 international keynotes, presentations and public lectures in four continents. Her most recent book, Education in Computer Generated Environments (2013) has been published in hardback by Routledge in their Research in Education Series. She blogs at:

Relevant web links:
 The Serious Games Institute:
 Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age:
 Digital Games & Learning:
 Interdisciplinary Advancements in Gaming, Simulations and Virtual Environments: Emerging Trends: see:
 Book Series: Digital Games and Learning, see:

     Personal profile at:

     Personal Blog at:

     de Freitas, S. (2013) Education in Computer Generated Education book at:


Paul Maharg is Professor of Law in The Australian National University College of Law, and part-time Professor of Law at Nottingham Trent Law School. Prior to this he was Professor of Law at the Glasgow Graduate School of Law (GGSL), University of Strathclyde where he was Co-Director of Legal Practice Courses, and Director of the Learning Technologies Development Unit, as well as Director of the two-year, JISC/UKCLE-funded project, SIMPLE (SIMulated Professional Learning Environment). He is the author of Transforming Legal Education: Learning and Teaching the Law in the Early Twenty-first Century (2007, Ashgate Publishing), co-editor of and contributor to Digital Games and Learning (2011, Continuum Publishers), co-editor of and contributor to Affect and Legal Education: Emotion in Learning and Teaching the Law (2012, Ashgate Publishing), The Arts and the Legal Academy: Beyond Text (2012, Ashgate Publishing) and has published widely in the fields of legal education, technology-enhanced learning and professional learning design ( He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow, Fellow of the RSA (, and Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University and Griffith University. He blogs at

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